Vermont got a new bishop in January of last year (2015)… just a little over a year ago. Vermont had been without an officially installed bishop for more than a year previous to that, as the former bishop had been reassigned to the Diocese of Rochester, New York. (A gracious Monsignor John McDermott acted as interim administrator during the vacant-seat period.)
Newly installed Bishop Christopher Coyne is known as the “Blogging Bishop,” because he was one of the first to use social media to reach out to his constituents and keep Catholic parishioners abreast of diocese news. I could provide a biographical portrait of the newly installed bishop here for you, but seeing as he is so accessible online, let me just direct you thither.
I think the bishop is doing great so far. He made a point of visiting the congregations of the diocese a few at a time as he adjusted to his new home of Vermont. (This is no small feat in Vermont in the wintertime! Especially a winter like we had last year in 2015!) He also managed to create some goals for the office, speak with constituents to hear their concerns and issues, and somehow found the time to continue his online presence, providing a way to—at least "virtually"—keep in touch with Vermont Catholics. He has also made a point to try to visit the catholic schools in the state.
What does a Catholic do when a new bishop is installed in one’s diocese? One celebrates! And commemorates! And I decided to do just that by making a commemorative welcome gift for his Most Reverend Bishop last year to honor his installation ceremony. Like the little drummer boy, I had a limited amount of resources to offer. But as a knitter with a lot of extra yarn stash, I decided I’d make something that might prove useful during Vermont’s second coldest winter on record, as well as something representative of the bishop’s new office.
Every bishop receives a new official crest that is designed specifically for him. Here is a depiction of Bishop Coyne’s new crest that contains elements of his Irish and French heritage as well as significators of his new Vermont home (depicted at right).
A full description of the crest’s elements can be found here.
I really like free-style knitting and crocheting. So I got to work re-creating the crest for the scarf by making a sketch design first:
I made the body-length part of the scarf first—it is a reversible cable pattern down the whole length. Then created the crest at the dangling end. I’m not very fond of intarsia knit work. I much prefer creating appliqué or embroidering designs onto the knitting surface. Instead of a flat surface, the piece then has a lot of texture to it and it feels much more like a piece of “art,” rather than a simple flat design.
The background shield (three colors: gold, green and blue) was done as a flat intarsia field in the shape of a crest shield. The Celtic cross was then embroidered on, as were the fleur de lis, the small golden cross fleuretty, and the stag’s antlers. However, the stag’s head, the bishop’s green galero hat, and the large golden cross fleuretty were all made as miniature appliqué shapes and sewn directly onto the intarsia crest. The crest is reversible (I repeated the design on both sides, or rather made two crests and sewed them back-to-back.)
At the other end of the scarf I tied six green tassels (another symbol of the rank of bishop).
All of this was placed in a nice wicker presentation box and personally delivered to the office of the bishop in Burlington, Vermont. I somehow managed to hit the one sunny day of the week on the day that I chose to make the 1-1/2 hour drive north. So even though it was a cold day, it was a beautiful day for being able to enjoy the Vermont countryside and views of Lake Champlain.
I received a very nice thank you note from him shortly thereafter. I look forward to meeting the bishop in person some day.
To listen to Bishop Christopher Coyne’s beautiful homily for the opening ceremony of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, please click on the video link below. You'll will be brought to the bishop's personal website where you can also read the text of the homily.